Thursday 24 January 2013

Marketing Monkey

They look good there but you don't want them to be spinsters
The last time I dressed up in my monkey suit - metaphorically speaking - was November last year, when I went to flog my books for a charity - this went very well - more later. Prior to that, monkey me came out at Waterstones in Hampstead - I think that was last February. The Waterstones gig was 'An Evening with Emily Barroso.' This event was given (I imagine) due to a good feature on the book that had come out the week I bowled in there (with sprogs) waving the paper. The manager had read the piece and in response to my asking for a book signing offered an event instead, thereby waving a double-edged sword in my face so deftly that I didn't even see it. I have blogged about this previously, but I bring it up now to point out that I was offered this event due to the happenstance of the feature and having had some other good press previously, and to show that that there is no point in having an evening with anyone unless folk know who the little monkey is. I was expected to don my monkey suit and get guests - and with a new baby, a toddler and an awol teenager, well I didn't. In the event there were about 36 people there - this is the headcount figure that seems to stick, though I may be doing myself (or Waterstones an injustice or not as the case may be).

Waxing on
The event went great, and I loved waxing on about my book and having a laugh with the audience and getting all tinkly-winkly about it all, but did I sell many books? Not really. The dilemma remains, and not just for me, through speaking to other recently published writers: those who have been published by a major, an indie, or who have done it themselves; a writer must get out there and pound the street to sell the meat (crude, but in my view appropriate, as this is how it feels!).

An industry person scoffed at my modest, but not bad (I thought) given they are word of mouth, book sales recently, citing an author she knows who has sold truckloads and who also went through a publisher similar to mine. I asked this industry lady if said author had little ones at home and whether she was doing book events every week. Affirmative. Obviously if you are going to don your monkey suit every weekend and clang your cymbals in bookshops folk are going to buy your book, and week by week, sales will rise. But if one has two nippers at home and another due imminently, one cannot just leave them and go tearing up and down the country with a livid stalkers book look in one's eye can one? Or two (sane mum + crazy mum?).

Maddened by lack of sleep and wine
Maddened by years of counting ones daily quota of sleep on three fingers, one should not be let loose on the unsuspecting public. At a bookshop signing, one might start mumbling on about the possibility of fossils on Mars while taking an absent minded bite out of the nearest display book to hand (which will be a bestseller by someone with the X Factor - 'X' as in the letter next door but one to 'Z' - or perhaps by a former cricket player spinning on his weaknesses - another winning wicket! Jaffa! No blunder there's no room for our books on the shelf). But please do not think I am thinking 'poor 'lil 'ol me,' I would not change my life for a second, sleepless and bonkers though it may be. I would just like to sell more books. Particularly since I write good books - yes, I believe my own press!

Seriously, if you are in my position and have any tips please contact me. Maybe we can help each other in some way that doesn't require mining for that glittery gold: time.